So you’ve just paid off your car. It only took a million years, but finally, you can relax and not worry about monthly payments.
For at least a week. Because you’re already thinking that you may need to buy a new car. After all, while it didn’t really take a million years to pay it off, it did take awhile, and your odometer shows that you’ve been driving it for well over 100,000 miles now. Isn’t it time to get a new car?
Not necessarily -- and especially not if you’d like to hang onto your car for as long as possible. It’s also financially smart to try and keep your car running for as long as you (safely) can. According to Consumer Reports, motorists who have a car that hits 200,000 miles – which generally takes 15 years -- end up saving $30,000 or more over.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult to reach 200,000 (or more) miles, especially if you have a dependable model. But you will need a plan to get there. In other words, like with any car and a far-away destination, you need a road map. Milex Complete Auto Care is here to tell you what you need to do to extend the life of your car.
Make sure your car gets regular maintenance. This is the number one strategy for getting your car’s odometer to someday read: 200,000.
Nobody wants to hear that, of course, because maintenance costs money, and as we’ve established, who wants to spend money? We get it. We don’t like spending money either. But an oil and filter change, a new battery, replacing a timing belt or spark plug – it’s all a heck of a lot less expensive than securing a loan with possibly high interest and payments that stretch out until the end of time. And the fact of the matter is – a car won’t last indefinitely if you don’t take care of it. You brush your teeth, so you won’t get cavities. You exercise (or try to) so you can maintain your weight. Your wear glasses or contact lenses, perhaps, so you don’t get more eye strain and hurt your sight. Taking care of a car is a lot like taking care of yourself. If we don’t pay attention, we get run down and our parts wear out.
Use synthetic oil and not regular oil. Yes, the synthetic stuff is more expensive than the regular oil. But think of it as eating your vegetables versus potato chips. Your body won’t break down (right away) if you eat a lot of junk food day after day, week after week, month after month, but the fruits and vegetables and a well-balanced diet are undoubtedly better for you. Well, the synthetic oil is that better diet. It has fewer impurities; the conventional oil will sometimes create sludge (seriously), and that can eventually do some wear and tear on your engine. This won’t come as a shock to you, but sludge in the engine isn’t a good thing.
Make sure your car gets regular antifreeze changes and radiator flushes. Why? Because your cooling system and radiator will thank you. Your cooling system and radiator keeps your engine from getting too hot or too cold. How often should you worry about this? Not all that often, fortunately. Your car’s owner manual will give you advice, but typically, you’ll need to do this every 30,000 miles.
If your engine is too cold, the fuel’s performance can be affected, but what you really want to avoid is having it become too hot. If that happens, you might find yourself one day on the side of the highway, with steam coming out of your engine while you look on your phone for the nearest tow truck. If your engine overheats, you may be able to get it serviced without too much trouble. But, sadly, it also may be the end of the road for your car.
Pay attention to the dashboard lights. When your car tells you to take your vehicle to be serviced with a “check engine” light – or some other warning – it’s a good idea to take note. It’s also smart to read your car manual. It’ll tell you what those lights are for, if it isn’t clear, and it’ll also tell you when you should replace parts and advise you on when to get your vehicle checked out.
Take care of your tires. Why? It doesn’t affect the rest of my car, you may think. Well, it can affect the rest of your car. Maybe a bad tire will just lead to a flat – but it could also cause a blow out, in which you’re hanging onto your wheel for dear life. For the safety of you, your car and others on the road, be sure to get tire alignments, rotations and check your tire pressure on a routine basis. And it should be noted if your tires are misaligned that can cause other issues, such as your car vibrating, which (spoiler alert!) isn’t a good thing for your car.
In short, take care of your car, and it’ll take care of you – and for another 100,000 or so miles, you can focus on the road – and not spend that time wondering how you’re going to pay all of your monthly automobile payments.
For any other maintenance questions or car care suggestions, be sure to check with the professionals at your local Milex Complete Auto Care store.